So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up... (Ephesians 4: 11, 12)
This past week I had the pleasure of witnessing a friend's ordination. The passage chosen was from Ephesians 4 - a really cool passage acknowledging multiple ways that people are gifted - all for the purpose of equiping God's people for works of service! I love it because it reminds me that we ALL have a calling - and we ALL participate in the kingdom work!
Here's what particularly struck me during the sermon: the pastor pulled out the phrase "works of service" (vs. 12) and explained that this word was actually diaconia. If you think that looks a lot like "deacon" you'd be quite right. That word has shaped what the ministry of the deacons looks like today. Now if you read verse 12 with deacon in mind you get something like this paraphrase:
"... to equip his people to be deacons (for diaconia)..."
As leaders the call is to equip people for work of service - for diaconia - to be deacons! We, as deacons formally serving on council, should not be expected or expecting to do all the "deacon-like" work in our congregations. That mentality will only lead to a tired deacon team and a dying congregation. We need to be people who inspire those among us to fulfill their own call of diaconia. We need to be people who engage our communities to pursue the vision to be a church of deacons! This will lead to growth - of both individuals and the corporate body. I believe that deacons are the vessel through which God is changing churches these days - hands on care and compassion, reaching out into our neighbourhoods, sharing the love our Christ through our words and deeds, bringing hope and living justice. Deacons are what a hurting world needs!
With a vision like that, I'm pretty thankful God filled the pews with deacons!
For a little laugh this week I recommend starting some conversations this week with "so, I heard you were a deacon". Keep a straight face and speak in earnest, to really get a strong reaction. (Having a twinkle in your eye is appropriate). When you're met with a blank stare of fear - share the vision - let's start a diaconia wildfire!
Tell us all - how was your deacon conversation received?